10 things only the middle child of the family will understand, according to psychology

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I’m a middle child, and I have to confess:

Of all the family rankings I’ve always felt it was the most “meh”.

That’s not to say it hasn’t affected me in wonderful ways, because I believe it has. But as any middle kid of the family will tell you, it’s very easy to blend into the background.

I think you have to experience it for yourself to get the potential blessings and curses that being the middle child can bring and the psychology behind how it shapes you.

So here are some things I think only the middle child of the family will understand.

1) You can feel slightly invisible

The pressure to stand out for the middle child can be quite strong. It’s just so easy to get overlooked through no fault of your own.

Here’s why:

The eldest was once upon a time the only child. Everything was new, and as parents, there were so many firsts. So for good and for bad, the spotlight was often on them.

Meanwhile, the youngest gets the privilege of being the baby of the family. So they become the focus for entirely different reasons.

Yet, the middle child in many ways doesn’t stand out. This can mean you end up feeling pretty ignored, overlooked, or overshadowed by your siblings.

In an attempt to get a little bit of attention, you may feel like you strive to be noticed and appreciated.

2) It’s not that you’re always happy to share, you’re just used to it

Middle children are often seen as mild-mannered and agreeable. That’s a good thing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want things for ourselves, we do!

Hand-me-down clothes, toys, and gadgets were just a part of how we grew up. Sharing our parent’s time, attention and resources is all we knew.

But we do still crave having the limelight to ourselves sometimes.

People may assume that we’re so good or selfless, but the real truth is‚ we had no choice.

Whether it’s joint birthday parties or shared bedrooms, secretly most of us longed for something that was ours alone.

3) You love your family, but you’re fine not being around them

According to the research, it’s us middle kids who are least likely to be family-orientated or call our moms.

I’m super guilty of this, sorry mom!

We are often the first to branch out on our own and move away from home.

That’s not to say we love our parents or siblings any less.

I think it’s that independence comes easier just because we had less of the focus.

But as we’re about to see next, going a bit unnoticed can be useful at times.

4) You get to spread your wings

…Largely because the heat is off you.

I think the reason why so many middle children are so independent is not just because they had to be, but also because they could be.

The eldest and the baby of the family do get more scrutiny as well as attention.

As the middle kid you can get up to a lot more with it flying under the radar.

Sure, you can feel a bit neglected because of this. But the reality is that there is also a lot less scrutiny and pressure on you.

That gives you the freedom to make your own choices too.

For example, my older brother wanted to do English at college, but my folks didn’t think it was legitimate enough. They pretty much made him study Law instead.

But by the time it was my turn, they didn’t seem to care as much, and so off I went to study English Literature without it so much as raising an eyebrow.

5) Being a spoilt brat was never an option

You’re unlikely to meet many middle children with a diva complex.

Temper tantrums, and “me, me, me” behavior just won’t fly for us.

Maybe we would have done it if it worked. But your parents simply don’t pander to it.

They expect you to be a good role model for the younger siblings. And they also expect you to be mature like your older siblings.

There simply isn’t room for another big personality when it comes to being the middle child.

Hence why we get a reputation for being pretty easygoing.

6) You do have a rebellious streak a times

Here’s the thing:

Most of the time we may not make waves, but we’re certainly capable of it.

People might assume that the baby of the family is the only one who gets up to mischief, but not necessarily.

For example, one study highlighted that us middle kids were 33 percent more likely to engage in delinquent behavior than their older siblings.

So we’re not exactly angels. We too are capable of pushing boundaries from time to time. 

7) You pick your battles wisely

Thanks to being the middle child, I think I have a higher patience threshold.

Compromise is also something that comes more effortlessly. Especially when you’re used to being stuck in the middle.

So it means you tend not to sweat the small stuff. You’re used to having to bite your tongue.

But people can be quite surprised when I hold my ground and am firm on some things.

Middle kids aren’t pushovers. We are just a bit wiser when it comes to choosing what is worth the fight.

Yet when we find something we believe in, we won’t back down.

8) Being piggy in the middle is nothing new

Being the middle child isn’t just an age thing. You’re metaphorically in the middle of family dynamics a lot too.

When everyone falls out, you are the one who always feels stuck between and rock and a hard place.

It’s why we so effortlessly fall into the peacekeeping role.

On a plus note, this can make you an awesome mediator who is skilled at neutrality and seeing both sides. That’s a very useful life skill.

But you can often find your voice getting a bit lost sometimes too.

You’re so busy playing devil’s advocate, there doesn’t feel space for your own personal feelings and thoughts on things.

9) Your friends can feel like family

Middle kids don’t always feel like they get all their emotional needs met within the family unit. So, they tend to go looking for that missing piece of the puzzle elsewhere from an early age.

Luckily, we do make friends easily and enjoy great social lives.

After all, we’re well-socialized, cooperative, and considerate. Who wouldn’t want to be our friend, right?!

This means that we tend to have very close-knit connections. Middle children make not only devoted pals, but also romantic partners.

One study even found that 80 percent of middle-borns stayed faithful to their other halves, compared to only 65 percent of first-borns and 53 percent of last-borns.

So if someone is looking for loyalty, they’ll find it in the even-keeled middle child. 

10) Being seen by others is a big deal

We’re not ego-centric — check.

We can handle delayed gratification because waiting our turn is nothing new — check.

We’re open-minded and can see many sides in life — check.

But for all our grounded energy, underneath it all, middle children also carry the pain of being ignored.

The adult you’ve become may handle that in mature ways, but your inner child still craves validation.

This can mean that when we’re feeling vulnerable and insecure old wounds get triggered.

We may even become a little bit needy or clingy when we desperately want that attention.

But hey, we just want to be loved and feel seen.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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